One of the beautiful things about gin is that it can be enjoyed in any season. For our final Gin Club selection of the year, we have selected a gin that, much like the fleeting seasons, is to be enjoyed while it lasts! Showcasing Bergamot, a winter citrus fruit, Letherbee Distillers 2021 Autumnal Gin is a one-time, limited edition release. Based in Chicago, Letherbee Distillers makes a variety of spirits that includes two limited edition gins released biannually: a Vernal Gin in the spring and an Autumnal Gin in the fall. The recipe for each changes with every release. Past releases have incorporated botanicals as diverse as horseradish, grapefruit and beets. In addition to bergamot, 2021 Autumnal includes a hint of cocoa nib, making it a perfect match for bitter cocktails with sweet vermouth and amaro (calling all Negroni lovers!). I hope this quarter’s gin will help warm you up over the cold months. Here’s wishing you a cheerful holiday season!
Brenton Engel’s love affair with distilling began in 2007, when he started making moonshine in his basement. “Illinois Joy,” as it came to be known, proved to be a hit with Chicago’s chefs and bartenders. Brenton soon began working as a bartender himself, experimenting with herbs, spices, and other botanicals. He began to incorporate these into his moonshine, and soon the idea for a full-scale distillery was born. Fiercely independent, Letherbee follows its unique creative vision unemcumbered by outside commerical influences.
Continuing the distillery’s work with different varieties of citrus, Letherbee Autumnal Gin 2021 utilizes a fruit associated with perfumes, cosmetics, and tea. Often considered to be the most delicate of citrus, Citrus bergamia, commonly called Bergamot, is a genetic cross between lemon and bitter orange. It originated in Southern Italy and commercial cultivation is centered around the region of Reggio Calabria (in the toe of the boot).
Upon first whiff, 2021 Autumnal Gin bursts with bright, concentrated citrus. As it interacts with air, the strong bergamot begins to mellow making way for warm baking spices. With the added hint of cocoa nib in the recipe, 2021’s Autumnal Gin plays nicely with bitter cocktails. Think about combinations with sweet vermouth, amaro, and fernet. Consider baking spices, black tea, Calabrian chili, ginger, and fig. For lighter, sour drinks, try herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, and lemongrass.
Founder/Distiller: Brenton Engel
Botanicals: Made using the same 11 botanicals as Letherbee’s classic gin (including juniper, coriander, licorice, fennel, angelica, coriander, cubeb, lemon peel, orange peel, cinnamon, & almond) with the addition of dried bergamot peel, cold-pressed bergamot oil, and cocoa nib.
Tasting Notes: Bergamot’s fruity and floral aroma brightly frames classic notes of juniper and coriander while the cocoa nib adds depth and a comforting hit of baking spice.
Cocktails to try with Letherbee 2021 Autumnal Gin
Hanky Panky (Ada Coleman, American Bar at the Savoy)
1 ½ oz Gin
1 ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
Scant barspoon Fernet (Letherbee makes their own!)
Add ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until well chilled and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
2 oz Gin
½ oz lemon juice
¼ oz simple syrup (1:1, sugar:water)
3 oz dry sparkling wine (preferably Champagne)
Add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a coupe or flute glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a long curling peel of lemon.
1 ½ oz gin
½ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz blanc vermouth
¾ oz orange juice, fresh squeezed
¼ oz lemon juice, fresh squeezed
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.